Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

December 1, 2012: Back

            My friend Mike knows everything.

            “Yeah, you’ll blog for six months or so,” he told me when I launched this thing, “and then you’ll just stop.”

            I told him, of course, that this would never happen. “I’m different,” I’m sure I said. “This blog thing is a commitment! I’m great at commitments.”

            But I hate writing. No revelation there: I’ve known I hate to write—especially for free—for the nearly 30 years I’ve been doing it for a living.

             Anyway, I’m back, to haunt you with blather from my wee life. And, for those of you who noticed or cared, I’m sorry I vanished. Here, as a sort of penance, is another photograph of me looking ridiculous.

Which of these girls is Robrt Pela?

Which of these girls is Robrt Pela?

Thing I Hate Today: Procrastination is like breathing


August 15, 2012: Takei It Away

Not an asshole.

          I don’t normally re-post things, but there’s a quote I’m sort of in love with that’s been making the rounds lately in social media circles.

          The saying of this lovely thing has been attributed rather widely to the actor George Takei, but I’ve also seen credit given to Morgan Freeman and Alyssa Milano (!). Regardless of who said it, and in the event that you’ve missed this fine sentiment, here it is:

 “I hate the world ‘homophobia’. It’s not a phobia. You are not scared. You’re just an asshole.”


Thing I Hate Today: No time to garden

August 14, 2012: The Waiting (RIP David Rakoff, Part Two)

I never met him, but David Rakoff and I got off to a lousy start.     When I was first signed by the literary agency that’s still waiting for me to finish my current book project, my agent sent me Rakoff’s first book, Fraud, with a short note attached: “Love your manuscript, no changes, but worried that you’re not so sympathetic to readers. Read David Rakoff for example of how to be dark but still sympathetic.”

I phoned my agent. “Why does every character in every book have to be sympathetic?” I snarled. “I’m not going for sympathy here. I’m not sympathetic.”

“Read Rakoff,” came the reply.

I did, and I saw my agent’s point: in essays in which Rakoff griped about hiking a mountain in cheap shoes and his horrific experiences as a 22-year-old cancer patient, he managed to be both curmudgeonly and compassionate at the same time, by tempering his whining with some gentle (but still snooty) insights into the human condition.

Read Rakoff.

David Rakoff: “The Waiting”:–2

Thing I Hate Today: Sitting in the urologist’s waiting room for an hour

August 12, 2012: If You Believe in Miracles

            This afternoon, at my parents’, I was making lunch and trying to think of something I could pinch off another blog post about when the doorbell rang. I opened the door to find two elderly women, both clutching bibles, standing on the front porch.

            “Oh, dear, did we wake you up?” the Caucasian granny asked. It was almost noon.

“No,” I replied. “I always look rumpled and sleepworn. Can I help you?”

“Well,” she said, “Bertha and I are visiting our neighbors today to ask if they believe in miracles.”

“I don’t,” I said, “But my husband does.”

Bertha leapt in. “Well, if you have a few minutes, we’d like to speak to you about the good word of the Lord.”

“I’d like nothing more,” I lied. “But I’m putting lunch on the table and my father gets grouchy if his soup goes cold.”

“Oh, what a blessing,” the white woman said. “How old is your father?”

“He’s 90.”

“Well!” Bertha exclaimed. “The Lord has kept your dad going a good long time! Praise Him!”

“Yes,” I said, “It is definitely Christ who has been keeping my parents going. And now, if you’ll excuse me, today is The Lamb of God’s day off, and my Cream of Celery is burning.”

Your humble servant.

Thing I Hate Today: Those Styrofoam soda-can-cover things

July 13, 2012: Three for Three

          In the last week I’ve opened three art exhibits at three different galleries. Somebody shoot me.

          This one, at the Herberger Theater Center Art Gallery, is an invitational that I forced the nice people at the Herberger to put on the gallery schedule last year (they don’t usually do invitationals there). I’m calling it Lightning in a Bottle, and I’ve selected work by Jake Fischer (a painter), Hank Fries (a sculptor), and David Emitt Adams (a photographer). These guys are amazingly talented, and I hope, if you’re in Phoenix and at the Herberger any time in the next couple months, you’ll head upstairs to the gallery to check out their newest work.

          Here’s a preview:

David Emitt Adams makes these gorgeous tintype portraits on metal film canisters and rusty old tin cans. Beautiful.

Jake Fischer is a young painter who makes these stunning oil paintings of nighttime street scenes. They glow.

Hank Fries creates amazing metal sculptures. This giant koi features scales made from old bottle caps.

Thing I Hate Today: Not enough hours in a day

July 6, 2012: Here, Kitty

          While I was away, the country was apparently overtaken by this oddly engaging little charmer (click link):

Oh, for Christ’s sake.

 Thing I Hate Today: Cute cat videos

July 5, 2012: Tongue Me

            In France I ate snails and crayfish and fried smelt and hundred-year-old cheese, and today I’m hankering for something other than a hotdog, if you catch my drift. And so I’ve headed for my collection of ridiculous cookbooks in search of something odd and oddly tasty.

          Here’s a recipe for Tongue Corn Casserole. I’m not a fussy eater, but I draw the line at eating stuff that’s going to be tasting me while I’m tasting it. And if I were going to eat tongue, I certainly wouldn’t want it in a casserole. With corn. Trust me.

            This little number, which appears on the page right next to a recipe for Liver Loaf, is from Money-Saving Main Dishes, a 48-page booklet that claims to be a “bulletin” from the United States Department of Agriculture. My copy, kipped long ago from my mother’s pantry, is dated 1962 and was, according to a rubber stamp on the cover, a gift “From Your Congressman, Michael J. Kirwan.” I am guessing that, after reading some of the recipes printed in this one (among them Boiled Dinner and French Toast with Tomato-Meat Sauce), my mother didn’t send Mr. Kirwan a thank-you note.

Let’s eat.

            I like how the cover illustration depicts the products of agriculture, which apparently include spatulas and straining spoons. I’m also intrigued by the brown splotches on the cover, which smell slightly of curry, although I can find no recipes containing that spice in this delightfully atrocious collection of main dishes.

            Speaking of ingredients, where does one buy pimiento, exactly? Tongue is easier to come by, although not as much fun to pronounce. Still, I couldn’t resist. I asked the clerk at Safeway this morning, “Do you have tongue?” He seemed unfazed, and pointed me to the meat counter. When asked where the pimiento was, he said, “Oh, you’ll have to ask someone else about that.” This was the same clerk whom I’d asked, last December, if he had lady fingers. I was hoping for witty banter, but he just stared.

            People are so disappointing.

Tongue and Corn Casserole

 3 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 teaspoon finely chopped onion

2 tablespoons finely chopped pimiento

3 ½ tablespoons flour

1 ¼ cups milk, broth from tongue, or water with 2 beef bouillon cubes

¼ teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups chopped cooked tongue

1 1/3 cups whole-grain corn, drained

1/3 cup grated cheese

¼ cup fine, dry breadcrumbs mixed with butter or margarine

Thing I Hate Today: Recipes with no instructions after the ingredients list

Friday, June 15: You are Here

     Lady Leighton overheard me today telling a Yank on the phone that I’m staying with her at her home in the Cotswolds. After I hung up, she tried to enlighten me.

     “Make no mistake, darling,” she said. “We’re in Great Wolford. Not Little Wolford, it’s down the road. The town is Shipston-on-Stour; which is worth noting because it’s a market town. Don’t be fooled, though. We’re not in Gloucestershire. We’re in Warwickshire. The back part of my garden is in Gloucestershire, but my postal address is in Warwickshire. People—particularly people from Chipping Norton—often are confused by this.”

     Honestly—those people from Chipping Norton!

     Today, we’re driving out to visit our friends Jan and David in the East Midlands. They live in Staffordshire County, in a hamlet called Tayton Hill in the town of Dunstall. Probably you already know this, but it’s quite near Barton Under Needwood. (Lady Leighton used to live in Yoxall, which is next door to Dunstall and borders Burton on Trent, where she sent her children to school.)

It’s pouring rain at the bottom of Lady Leighton’s garden. Bliss.

 Thing I Hate Today: It’s raining and I haven’t any rubbers

June 7, 2012: Were Back!

Dear Andy and family, 

The signage on your downtown restaurant nearly caused me to drive into a streetlamp. Never before have I seen so many typos on one building—and I’ve lived in Phoenix for a half-century. But I’m delighted that your son (or is that you’re son?) decided to forgo college. What a waste of money that would have been!


Robrt Pela

Thing I Hate Today: Ampersands

May 23, 2012: Drawing Room

I found this sketch, done on the back of the envelope from last month’s water bill, on Tevye’s desk today:


Thing I Hate Today: Not enough eternity